NaNoWriMo tip: tactile stimulation

Sorry I've been AWOL, but I've been on deadline for several books, which takes up my blogging time!

In honor of NaNoWriMo, I thought I'd post a few quick tips for writing while on NaNoWriMo that can help you achieve your goal of 50,000 words written on your novel this month.

This is one of the best weapons in my arsenal:

Tactile Stimulation

This might not work for everyone, but of all the people who have tried it so far, it has worked for them all, so chances are, it'll work for you, too.

Basically, when you stimulate your hands (or your body, really) with tactile, kinesthetic stimulation, it enables you to think creatively and focus on thinking creatively.

When you're trying to write a novel in a month, you don't have time to sit and stare at the blinking cursor. Trust me, I've done that for HOURS. Hours of wasted time.

I discovered that if I have something in my hands that doesn't require too much brain-power, I can suddenly focus on my novel better and think of what to write next.

For me, I knit. For you, pick something easy for you to do, and tactile, but it can also be relatively boring.

I will sit in front of my computer and knit a sock, say, and think of what my characters are going to say next. When I think of something, I drop my knitting in my lap and type on my computer. When I don't know what to type anymore, I pick up my knitting again and knit until I think of something.

This is related to how people often come up with great ideas while in the shower or washing dishes or driving. I think it's partly the tactile stimulation that enables their creative brain side to wander and, well, get creative.

(I think this is also why I tend to write better when I have snacks. Eating is tactile and it's mindless and it totally works for me, but my behind expands with every book. Oy!)

The key is that the activity has to be relatively mindless. No complex lace knitting projects, in other words (and trust me, I've tried it. It wasn't a pretty sight.) I've also tried card making/stamping/scrapbooking, but I need too much brainpower for that and I don't get any writing done. I have tried crochet, but it has to be a super easy crochet like single crochet all the way--no complex crochet stitches or a pattern to follow.

I usually knit an easy garter or stockinette stitch scarf, or a pair of stockinette socks, or an easy blanket that doesn't require a pattern (just enough stitches to make your eyes cross). Those projects typically are so BORING that I don't do them unless I don't have anything else to knit -- OR unless I need something tactile but boring so that I can unleash my creative right brain power.

I discovered that when I knit and write, I average about 500 words an hour (there are some people who write more, some who write less. If you write more than that, go away. Just kidding. If you write more than that, you probably don't need this tip!)

When I don't knit and write, I can go as low as 100 words an hour. Yes! I am pathetic.

When I'm on deadline for a book, I can't afford to be writing only 100 words an hour. That's really when I get going on my knitting (so if you want me to knit you socks, tell me when I'm on deadline. :)

For you, pick some activity you can do while writing and try it out. You might find your productivity really increases!

I tried to list some activities below but have come up woefully short on ideas. If you have more ideas on what tactile activities writers can try, let me know and I'll add it to the list.

knit (easy projects)
crochet (easy projects)
Tunisian crochet
hand quilting (easy)
English Paper Piecing
polishing silver
pedicure (manicure if you can type with stuff on your fingers, but my M key has a stain and sticks b/c--you guessed it--I tried it and it didn't work well for me)
stress therapy ball (Martha Ramirez)
bike ride/walk/drive in the car/(swim???) -- bring pen and paper and/or digital tape recorder for ideas) (Koala Bear Writer)
jigsaw puzzle (Jill W)
playing an instrument (sasafras)


  1. Interesting! Showers and washing dishes always work magic to my thinking, but obviously I can't stay wet all day. But I will now, thanks to you, think of another tactile stimulation.

  2. Great tip Camy. I knit too, but it doesn't look anything like your knitting. It looks like a kindergartner did it, but you know, it's good for my thinking so I'm sticking with it, even though my results drive real knitters crazy. LOL

  3. That explains my improved word count yesterday. I just happen to have two easy knit projects going (I'm a beginner). It looks like one of them will be moving to my office!

  4. I used to go for a bike ride or a swim... the problem was, I'd have to remember everything I thought of while out until I got back to my computer. :) It's amazing how our brain multitasks, though, isn't it? Great suggestions.

  5. Great tip! Thanks!
    I am an impossibly lazy person, and always panic at a blank Word document. The ideias come when I'm taking shower, and when I want to write them down later, I forget everything.
    I think I'm gonna have to ask my grandma how to knit, hahaha.

    Kisses from Brazil! (And sorry for any mistakes in my English.)

  6. That's very interesting Camy. I'm participating in NANOWRIMO for the first time. I'm currenty at 17500 words. Now I know why I'm running to my jigsaw puzzle when I get stuck. :)

  7. Hi Camy. What about adding a stress/therapy ball. I just got me one cuz I read that it's good excercise for the hands. Great tip! I'll have to try it:)

  8. Thank you for posting this! I came home after a long day at the day job yesterday and got over 2,000 words and a few more rows added to the blankie for my Grandkitten. There is no way I would have gotten that many words written after the day I had if I hadn't read this post. Now I'm thinking I need to set up a knitting basket next to my desk. :)

  9. Great advice. I know, yes, I really know, that if only I could knit, I would be the greatest writer of the century and so prolific.

  10. Thanks for your comments, guys! I've added the suggestions to the list.

  11. That's a good suggestion. I've also found that music provides good creative stimulation. It's not just listening to music, but when I get stuck writing, I can go to the piano and play, and while I play I mull over my story, and usually I can come up with something to help me get past the block.


  12. Thanks for sharing NaNoWriMo..very helpful ..have bookmarked and please updating!!

    Careers CV


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